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Jukulkula (WI4, 280m)

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After a late, albeit eventually good, start to the season the warm weather over Christmas and New Year pretty much killed off the possibilities of climbing some of the south facing objectives that were right at the top of my to-do list during January. There were of course plenty in reserve though and one route that has always eluded me is Jukulkula, which is a regional classic. It had already seen a number of ascents this season (not least from Pete Whittaker) meaning there was near certainty that we would find the route in good climbable condition. I also had a solid partner in Gareth, who was equally happy to solo the easy lower pitches in order to improve our climbing efficiency. That of course meant a little more time in bed could be afforded.


The approach was surprisingly easy. The online guide stated an hour but we were beneath the route in what can't have been more than 40 minutes, despite there not being the easiest of snow conditions. Bare frozen ground was covered by a …

Unfinished Business on Skogshornsdiederet (M5, 300m)

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The temperatures on Skogshorn had been well below zero since the weekend before last. The ground was no doubt fully frozen, but there had been no snow to really bring the mountain into a proper winter condition. At first it looked as though Skogshorn was going to get a good dump of snow prior to the weekend, then it looked as though there might possibly not be that much after all. A quick check on with someone in Hemsedal on Thursday confirmed 4-5cm of snow in the valley and with more expected it sounded as though Skogshorn would have a suitable winter jacket. With wind coming from the south, and widespread rain at lower elevations, together with a relatively mild freeze on Skogshorn I was also optimistic that the humid air would help form some Scottish style rime on the south face.

I haven't climbed much on Skogshorn for a multitude of reasons. Firstly I've found it really hard to find suitable partners who are psyched enough for long mixed routes and who have enough experien…

Hægar (n6+), Hægefjell

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At 7am I was slightly worried about our decision to wait until Sunday in order to climb Hægar, which was the planned main event for the weekend. I lay in my tent listening to the strong gusts of wind shake the trees regularly. Strong winds and slab climbing are far from being my favourite combination, particularly when the wind is across the face. However, a quick check of the wind direction raised my optimism that the ridge curving to the east of the main face would block it to some degree. Once we were off the initial slab pitches and into the corner system hopefully we would get further shelter.

Hægar is a route that has been on my wish list for a number of years, but only in more recent times has it found its way towards the top. That's partly because I'm generally climbing better (when not injured), meaning the difficulties have become manageable, and also partly because I'm not getting any younger. Waiting until I become an even better climber, or more to point when …

Gone with the Weed (n6-), Hægefjell

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Anna and me tried to climb Gone with the Weed a couple of years ago. I was still getting over my chronic fatigue on that occasion and it had seemed an ideal stepping stone due to its long-ish length, short approach, and easy descent via abseil. It actually proved to be Anna's sore feet that was our undoing and brought about a descent after just two pitches. Big toe pain from too much friction-type climbing on moderate angled slabs to be precise. Gone with the Weed had also been the plan A when I climbed the neighbouring route called Reven a year prior, but on that occasion the route was still wet from snow melt. All in all the route could be described as a little elusive for me, although it had largely dropped off my radar in recent years.


At least we had managed some single pitch cragging en route to and from Hægefjell during the first attempt. Anna's conclusion was that if she were ever to return to Hægefjell then it was best done in a group of three, so that she could more …

2016... The Year That Partially Vanished

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The slippery slope commenced at the start of winter 2015/16. My energy levels and general health took a steady dive and it would take the best part of two years to recover. In the space of a month I went from feeling close to peak fitness to struggling to cook meals for myself and largely being resigned to the sofa or bed.
The Onset
The first anomaly was acute exhaustion at my local climbing wall during mid-November. Usually finger strength was my limiting factor, not the hollow, wilting feeling consuming me in the upper half every route. I put it down a lack of recovery after a late finish on Skogshorn in Hemsedal the previous weekend. Back-to-back winter climbing weekends often left me feeling too depleted to train indoors during the week. This winter however I was determined to try and maintain one weekly visit in order to keep the finger strength ticking over until spring.
The following weekend I was back in Hemsedal, keen to find some early winter form. Barely halfway into the m…

Den republikanske terroristen (n5+), Skogshorn

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Our first attempt to climb Den republikanske terroristen didn't get further than the top of the second pitch. There was far too much wind together with strong gusts, which only increased with height. The wind was coming from a WSW Direction from which there was little shelter on our south face. Despite the twenty degree temperature, and adders basking on the slopes beneath Skogshorn, I still needed three layers in order to keep warm.

I led the first pitch, which weaved around initially before popping out on easy angled broken slabs. Normally I would scamper easily up this sort of slabby terrain, primarily using my feet with my hands merely an accessory, however the high winds caused me to over-grip and climb in a slower, static fashion. Often I needed to wait for the winds to drop before making the simplest of moves.

I was fully expecting Anna to suggest that we bail at the top of the first pitch and I was more resigned to agree. Smaller climbers definitely have a bigger say in …